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What to Keep and What to Discard after a Sewage Backup? Building Materials
By Jim Brown
In the aftermath of a sewage backup, you probably want to salvage as much as possible. However, unlike in cases of damage caused by clear water, when you deal with sewage backup you must keep in mind that the levels of risk are higher.
While damage caused by clear water presents mainly the risk hazards related to mold, sewage backups present a much more significant threat as the water is contaminated with bacteria. (Learn more about the risks and hazards)
The first step towards a successful and safe recovery is to make educated decisions as you try to determine what to keep and what to discard. The general rule is: anything you cannot thoroughly wash and disinfect should be thrown away.
Generally, it is recommended to consult a restoration professional to help determine which materials can be kept and which must be discarded.
- Insulation will hold the contaminated water and will present health threats. It must be removed to prevent mold and decay.
- Wooden wall studs and sills will be covered by new wallboard and painted, they will be removed from direct human contact and, therefore, probably won't need to be replaced. Make sure studs and sills are thoroughly cleaned, disinfected and allowed to dry properly.
- Rugs, carpet and padding cannot be salvaged. Porous materials, such as carpet, padding, upholstery, etc., must be discarded as they will hold contamination and bacteria. In rare cases, rugs and carpets can be salvaged if you can remove and wash them in hot water.
- Flooring such as linoleum, ceramic tile, and vinyl can be salvaged if dried, cleaned, and disinfected quickly. These floorings must be removed if you have wood subflooring to allow the wood to dry thoroughly (this may take several weeks). Discard this type of flooring if you detect signs of mold.
- Nonporous, hard surfaces such as plastic or metal surfaces can be kept, but must be cleaned and decontaminated properly.
What to Keep and What to Discard after a Sewage Backup? Personal Belongings